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Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
|Genres||Hindustani classical music|
Kala Ramnath is the first child of Malathy and T.N. Mani in Chennai, India. Ramnath was born into a family of prodigious musical talent, which has given Indian music such violin legends as T. N. Krishnan and N. Rajam. Her father, T.N. Mani was a musician, well known for his contributions to Indian film music.
At the age of two and a half, Ramnath was initiated into violin and vocal training by her grandfather, Vidwan Narayan Iyer. She represents the beginning of the seventh generation of violinists in her family. It has been said that her grandfather bribed her to practice by offering her sweets and candy.
She started performing from the age of 14 when her aunt presented her in concert. Ustad Zakir Hussain is noted complimenting her for playing just like her aunt Dr. N. Rajam, but asked who would like to listen to a copy when the original is still around. This irked young Ramnath, who was interested in leaving her mark in the musical world.
For fifteen years she studied with the Mewati vocal maestro, Pandit Jasraj. This has brought a rare vocal emotionalism to her art. Her violin playing is characterized by an immaculate bowing and fingering technique, command over laya, richness and clarity in sur. She has revolutionized the technique of playing the violin by taking this instrument so close to vocal music that today her violin is called The Singing Violin.
Ramnath has performed at all the major music festivals in India, as well as the most prestigious stages throughout the world, including the Sydney Opera House, London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and New York’s Carnegie Hall to name a few.
Due to her rigorous training in the classical tradition she comfortably forges musical alliances with artists of renown from different genres around the globe incorporating elements of Western Classical, Jazz, Flamenco and traditional African music into her rich and varied repertoire.
Ramnath is a sought after artist to work and experiment with orchestras like the London Symphony and London Philharmonic and world music legends like Ustad Zakir Hussain, Kai Eckhart, Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck, Terry Bozzio, Abbos Kossimov, Ayrto Moreira, Giovanni Hidalgo and rock legend Ray Manzarek of the Doors to name a few.
‘Raga Afrika’, ‘Global Conversation’ and recently ‘Elements’ are all bands Ramnath has founded along with her fellow world music artists.
Ramnath regularly lectures and conducts workshops all around the world. A few worth mention here are the Rotterdam Conservatory of Music in Netherlands, University of Giessen in Germany and the Weill Institute in association with the Carnegie Hall in New York.
She is keen to enrich the lives of under-privileged and sick children through music in the form of her foundation, ‘Kalashree’.
Ramnath also has been involved in the background score of the Hollywood films, notable among them being Blood Diamond working with composers like James Newton Howard and George Acogny.
Awards and recognitions
- Grammy nominated for her album ‘Miles from India’
- Recognized as one of the fifty best instrumentalists of the world by the prestigious ‘Songlines’ Magazine
- Album ‘Kala’ selected again by ‘Songlines’ magazine’s one of the 50 best recordings of the world
- The first Indian violinist to be featured in the violin Bible, ‘The Strad’, a solo essay in the ‘Encyclopedia – Rough Guide to World Music’ for her contributions in the field of violin in Music
- Out of her several recordings best selling albums, Kala’ and ‘Samvad’ were ‘Top of the World’ in the charts for the year 2004, ‘Yashila’ for 2006 and ‘Samaya’ for 2008.
- A Top Grade Artiste in India's Radio and Television
- Rashtriya Kumar Gandharva Sanman
- Pandit Jasraj Gaurav Puraskar
- Sur Ratna